The illustration above shows my distinctive harbor view. It isn’t a professional photograph, but a simple iPhone picture snapped from my balcony overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
I am a native of Baltimore. I grew up near Cross Country Boulevard in the northwest part of town and later lived in Charles Village and Bolton Hill. I have a master's degree in urban planning and have worked in the fields of historic preservation, transportation and planning for Baltimore City and the State of Maryland for 35 years. Today my wife and I live in a condo at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
When the Inner Harbor 2.0 plan was released in November 2013, I took a particular interest in it as a planner, local historian and Inner Harbor resident. I was happy to see an updated plan for the Inner Harbor – something that hasn’t been put forward in a long time – but I can’t say that I am pleased with all the recommendations.
I am disturbed by the section of the plan that calls for enlarging the Pier V Parking Garage, not only because it would impact my view, but because I feel strongly that the Inner Harbor should be for people not cars. Building large above ground parking facilities on waterfront property is absurd. How can planners in good conscience recommend expanding such a garage? How can they call for using a historic ship, the US Coast Guard Taney, a Pearl Harbor survivor, to screen parking areas and loading docks on Pier 4? Did they even consider how veterans and visitors would visit this historic vessel? How can planners recommend the removal of popular volley ball courts at Rash Field with only vague promises of relocating them elsewhere?
I feel an alternative harbor view is needed, so I produced my own. I call it Inner Harbor 2.1, not only as an update of Inner Harbor 2.0, but a reminder that experts predict that the Maryland’s sea level will increase 2.1 feet by 2050. That is only 36 years away. I will be 94, so it may not be my Inner Harbor problem, but it may be yours.
This plan was produced quickly with relatively modest tools. It is based upon my own experiences and dreams of a better Baltimore. It deals with land use, circulation, views, etc., but more than that -- it deals with making the heart of Baltimore as special today as it was when the Inner Harbor began evolving when I was still in college.
I wish to emphasize that the ideas put forward are mine alone and not those of any particular group, organization or special interest. If there are things in this plan you like, I encourage you to support them. If you neither like my plan nor Inner Harbor 2.0, than I suggest you consider generating your own ideas and let the planners and public officials know how you feel.
In many ways, this is an unfinished document. Conditions change and our plans should change with them. While we should look for inspiration elsewhere, we should remember that Baltimore was once a leader in waterfront redevelopment. We can be a leader once again. Future Inner Harbor improvements should have a distinctive Baltimore flavor retaining positive aspects of the past, while promoting a better tomorrow, transmitting “this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”*
* From: Oath of the Athenian City State